Ok..so we were at the summer of Pre Kindergarten, the two months off before starting Kindergarten and it was my time to teach my son. I mean, I have always painted, colored, wrote, played, drew..(you get it) with him but I resigned from my job as lead pre – kindergarten teacher to prepare my son for his new educational journey. I would not have changed it for the world. I loved being in my classroom- teaching, reading,,everything, the children but I was on a mission. Myself still being a full time M.Ed. student realized more than ever that my son, who was diagnosed with Autism 2 years ago, needed to learn and establish ways that he would be able to fully function in a classroom setting that was going to be different from pre K, different than what he has been use to, different friends, different teachers and different routine.
So..Let me back track a minute. We had a PPT meeting three days before school ended. They were planning and going to revise his IEP. My son was still not registered for Kindergarten because we were waiting on a lottery. He attended a Magnet Public School and the only way to stay there for Kindergarten and beyond is to apply and children are randomly chosen. He was like 44 on the waiting list which meant 43 others had to cancel and blahh So, my husband and I were against sending him to our neighborhood school up the street. No way in the world did we want him to go there. We expressed these concerns at the PPT meeting. Under no circumstances was my son going to attend that school. First of all, just stop right there- no, he is not going. Our son has special needs and he would just fall through the crack at that school. We have witnessed the mannerisms before and especially after school. My son needed more. He deserved more. We are his advocates and are going to get what he needs.
His special education teacher gave us the name and number of the lady in charge of the Autism program for the public school system where we live. She told us to call her and that she would help us find a solution whatever it may be- control transfer- anything and we were willing to do so.
So after a couple days, I called this lady. No answer. Called again, no answer. So my husband and I went down to the BOE at City Hall and asked for her. She was not there but at a school. We went to that school. She was there and we went into her office and explained Jorge’s story to see what she could do for us. You know, he has autism but he sure is awesome. He can read. He can communicate, look at him. He just needs more than what that regular school can offer. She jotted down some info and said let her work on it and she will get back to us. After 2 weeks there was no answer..hey wait a minute!! School is going to start soon. So we go to the BOE at City Hall, She was not there. She was on vacation so I asked about Ms. Matera (you remember? my professor from my BS Child Studies program and that was at the first ever PPT meeting- she is the supervisor/principal of a school nearby and I just know she is experienced with Autism and all that great stuff..) The secretary told us she was at the school, so we went. She let us in the office and was happy to see us. We explained our situations and concerns. She saw Jorge, She was impressed and amazed as he chose a book and sat down to start reading. She agreed that he does not need to go to the neighborhood school. Oh yeah..I forgot to mention, before this other lady went on vacation, she had left us a voice mail on Friday afternoon saying that there was nothing else to do and that he must attend the neighborhood school. So that is what sparked us to make a visit. We were not taking no for an answer. There has to be something better and there was.
Still, no IEP in hand and it is almost starting of the new school year, we have this impromptu meeting with Ms. Matera. She was very concerned and spoke to us about the options of 2 schools who have great ASD programs but there would be no bus, control transfer, lots of paper work, another visit (or more) to city Hall but we did not care. So she asked us to give her about a week to gather info and contact people etc. She was determined to help us and she did.
In ONE day, she returned our call and said she has great news.. Jorge is able to attend a school which has a great ASD program. He would be in a classroom with a few other ASD children but would also be mainstreamed into a typical Kindergarten class. There were professionals at the school certified in ASD education. There would be one teacher, who has a Master in Special Education and two other professionals in the room and they would be with him at all times. All the paperwork was set and if we agreed the secretaries from his former school would send all the information and we would not have to do anything but wait for the first day of school. I was excited and to top it all off, Jorge is able to take the school bus. How amazing is that. The bus would pick him up right in front of our home. This made it all so much better. He loves school buses. I was the nervous one…
This is what he will look forward to..
So we were all set. We just were waiting to start the first day of Kindergarten at a brand new school to start but all along we have been learning through the summer at Mommy school and continued to do so.
Summer was fun and educational and we will share with you all what we worked on.
What we have learned is….
(stay tuned for part 7)